Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Opium wars," May 12, 2007

Takes one to know one

Think Americans are the only ones with a low view of the French? According to new poll figures, even the French public has surrendered to self-loathing. A survey conducted by the International Herald Tribune found a whopping 44 percent of French people took a negative view of their fellow countrymen, outstripping even the United States' negative view of France. Among Britons, 33 percent held a negative view of the French whereas only 29 percent of Spaniards and 14 percent of Germans did.

Gere loose

Actor Richard Gere may be a ladies man, but in India, he's a wanted man. Indian authorities were steamed when the Pretty Woman star kissed a Bollywood actress during an AIDS awareness event in India. On stage during the event, Gere twirled Shilpa Shetty around before laying several smooches on her cheek. Apparently many Indians-including law enforcement authorities-saw the act as an obscene affront to Indian modesty. "My clumsy attempt at a Shall We Dance dance move was a naïve misread of Indian customs," Gere said in an apology. One Indian court has ordered his arrest.

Nicotine diplomacy

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A pub owner in southwest England thinks she knows a way to beat a countrywide smoking ban set to take effect on July 1. Debbie Trevithick of the Peruvian Arms in Pervance, Cornwall, says she plans on asking the Peruvian Embassy to make her bar an official consulate of the South American nation. Trevithick admits the move is a long shot, but consulate status would bring obvious benefits. Besides an exception to the smoking ban, patrons would enjoy free parking, and even diplomatic immunity. "About 95 per cent of our customers smoke," Trevithick said, "and it would be wonderful to be the only pub in England where you could have a cigarette."

Royal treatment

Minnesota Twins outfielder Torii Hunter's gesture of gratitude to the Kansas City Royals might land the star slugger in hot water. Hunter sent four bottles of champagne to the Royals organization after the struggling club swept Chicago, helping the Twins to secure their spot atop the division. Problem: A little-known baseball rule prohibits organizations from sending gifts to other clubs. According to the rulebook, Hunter could "be declared ineligible for not less than three years," though few expect Hunter to suffer officially for his honest mistake. The Royals, however, don't seem to be very receptive of Hunter's gift. Royals pitcher Zack Greinke accidentally hit Hunter in the mouth with a pitch in April. The club also returned the bubbly.

Less appealing

One reason never to look a gift horse in the mouth: Norwegian art thieves seeking to reduce their sentences in appeals court wound up with even more jail time after the court decided the initial rulings were too lenient. The three men who appealed had been convicted in relation to the theft of a pair of famous Edvard Munch paintings, including "The Scream."

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